The 2011 Strictly Come Dancing celebrities have met their professional partners for the first time as this year's series gets underway. And there were a few surprise pairings in a line-up which includes soap stars Jason Donovan and Holly Valance, Waterloo Road actress Chelsee Healey, ex-EastEnder Anita Dobson, and Strictly's Children In Need special winner Harry Judd. In the male contestants, footballer Robbie Savage found himself paired with Ola Jordan, while Daybreak sports presenter Dan Lobb will dance with Katya Virshilas. Harry Judd has been partnered with Aliona Vilani - despite having danced to victory with Ola Jordan on Children In Need in 2010 - and Jason Donovan will dance with Kristina Rihanoff. Boxer Audley Harrison has been partnered with dancer Natalie Lowe, and impressionist Rory Bremner will dance with Erin Boag. Finally, astrologer Russell Grant will take to the dancefloor with Flavia Cacace. Among the girls, Chelsee Healey found herself paired with newcomer Pasha Kovalev - who has replaced 2010 dancer Jared Murillo - and Anita Dobson will dance with Robin Windsor. Sixties singer Lulu has been partnered with Brendan Cole, and One Show presenter Alex Jones will perform with James Jordan. Last year's professional winner Artem Chigvintsev will dance with Holly Valance - one of this year's favourites - and Anton du Beke is following up 2010 parner Anne Widdecombe with Sven Goran Eriksson's feisty ex-girlfriend Nancy dell'Olio. Finally former MP Edwina Currie found herself partnered with Vincent Simone. The couples all performed together for the first time in a group routine on Saturday's show, and will now have the chance to rehearse together before the series proper kicks off with a double bill of shows on Friday September 30 and Saturday October 1.
Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix.
An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.
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